Monday, 30 November 2020

The Crondall Hoard

The Crondall Hoard was found in 1828 in a boggy field in Crondall, England. 18-year-old Charles Lefroy stumbled across what he thought at first were brass buttons.

Anglo-Saxons began striking coins in what was to become England around 600 CE. These early coins consisted almost entirely of the small gold coins known as 'thrymsas', which were struck in imitation of the Merovingian tremissis. Fewer than 400 thrymsas are known to exist, and 73 of these came from the Crondall Hoard.
The Hoard dates to no earlier than about 620 and no later than about 650.
Circa 620-635. AV Thrymsa. Kent and Essex, Eadbald (616-640). Obverse: Diademed, draped bust right; trident cross. Reverse: Latin cross on a globe within a pelleted inner circle. The 73 thrymsas show little sign of circulation, an indication that Anglo-Saxon coin production must have been very limited. The most important Crondall coin, and possibly the earliest, is the Eadbald thrymsa. The Eadbald thrymsa is the earliest known coin to name an English king; 50 years would pass before another coin naming an English king would appear. The Crondall Hoard contained one example.
Twenty-one of the 73 thrymsas in the Hoard are of the “Witmen Monita” type.
The extreme rarity of Crondall Type coins makes them very pricey for collectors. Most reside in museums.

The Art of Gold, 3000 Years of Chinese Treasures

An exhibition at L’École features masterpieces from the Mengdiexuan collection. It shines a light on 3,000 years of Chinese gold craftsmanship.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

House of the Tragic Poet

The House of the Tragic Poet is a Roman house in Pompeii famous for its elaborate mosaic floors and frescoes depicting scenes from Greek mythology. The house itself is not remarkable, but its interior decorations are not only numerous but of the highest quality among all others from ancient Pompeii. The mismatch between the size of the house and the quality of its decoration has been pondered. Little is known about the lives of the homeowners.

The house originally contained more than twenty painted and mosaic panels, six of which have been relocated to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
The House of the Tragic Poet was discovered in 1824 by archaeologist Antonio Bonucci.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Ancient gold coins found in Jerusalem's Old City

Israeli archeologists have discovered four gold coins in Jerusalem's Old City that were minted from the 940s to the 970s, a period of radical political change. During that period, the ruling Sunni Abbasid caliphate, headquartered in Baghdad, lost control of Jerusalem to its rival, the Shiite Fatimid dynasty of North Africa. The Israel Antiquities Authority said the coins were unearthed during excavation work near the Western Wall, which is the holiest site where Jews can pray.

The find marks the first time in over fifty years that a gold cache from the Fatimid period has been discovered in Jerusalem's Old City.

Thursday, 26 November 2020


Lampsakos was founded by Greek colonists in the 6th century B.C. It became main competitor of Miletus, controlling the trade routes in the Dardanelles. During the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., Lampsacus was successively dominated by Lydia, Persia, Athens, and Sparta.

LAMPSAKOS, Stater c. 360–340, Persic standard, AV 8.47 g. Obv. Laureate and bearded head of Zeus left, lotus-tipped sceptre on right shoulder. Rev. Pegasus flying right
Lampsakos was the first ancient Greek city state to see its gold coinage reach broad acceptance for international trade, a testament to its prosperity and influence. The stater of Lampsakos became very popular, circulating from Sicily to the Black Sea.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020


In the desert north of AlUla in Saudi Arabia, the archeological site of Hegra (Mada'in Saleh) has been left nearly undisturbed for almost 2,000 years. Once a thriving international trade hub, the rock-cut constructions at Hegra look similar to its famous sister site of Petra, a few hundred miles to the north in Jordan. Hegra was the second city of the mysterious Nabataean kingdom.

Nabataeans were desert-dwelling nomads turned merchants, controlling the incense and spice trade routes through Arabia and Jordan to the Mediterranean, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia. Caravans laden with fragrant peppercorn, ginger root, sugar and cotton passed through Hegra, a provincial city on the kingdom’s southern frontier. The Nabataeans prospered from the 4th century B.C. until the 1st century A.D., when the expanding Roman Empire rose to prominance.
Like Petra, Hegra is a metropolis turned necropolis: most of the remaining structures that can be seen today are tombs, with much of the architectural remains of the city still buried.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Sobek, the crocodile god

Egyptians had a complex relationship with the Nile’s crocodiles. The crocodile god Sobek first appeared in the Old Kingdom as the son of Neith with the epithet “The Rager”. According to some myths his father was Set, the god of thunder and chaos, but he also closely association with Horus.

Egyptions bred, raised, and mummified millions of baby crocs. Once hatched, the baby crocodiles would reside in shallow basins before being “sacrificed, mummified and then sold to worshipers as votive dedications.”

Sobek and his affiliated reptilian deities had their headquarters in the Faiyum, an oasis in Upper Egypt. It was thought that Sobek could protect the Pharaoh from dark magic.
During the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasties, the cult of Sobek was given particular prominence and a number of rulers incorporated him in their coronation names, including the first fully attested female pharaoh – Sobekneferu.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Master and slave discovered in Pompeii

The remains of two men have been unearthed in an extraordinary discovery in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. The bodies of what are thought to be a wealthy man and his slave, believed to have died as they were fleeing the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. The remains were discovered in the same location where a stable containing the remains of three harnessed horses were unearthed in 2017. Experts said the younger man was probably aged between 18 and 25. The elder man was aged between 30 and 40, and had a stronger bone structure.

The two men are believed to have escaped the initial phase of the eruption when the city was blanketed in volcanic ash and pumice, only to then be killed by a blast that happened the following day.

Saka Gold

In 2019 archaeologists found more than 500 artefacts made of gold, bronze and iron, believed to be from the 8th century BC, during excavations in the Yeleke Sazy burial sites in the Tarbagatai district in East Kazakhstan. The hoard was found at a depth of 1.5 metres in the niche of the ruined chamber of the largest kurgan, known as the Patsha mound. It was fused into a single lump in the remains of a leather bag apparently hidden in the stones by an ancient looter.

The agglomeration was cleaned by a restorer and unique gold cast figures of leopards, griffins, as well as bracelets and other jewellery items were found. Among other findings were small sized nuggets and ingots made of gold of high purity, which were used by ancient goldsmiths for the manufacture of sheet gold.
The findings from the Patsha mound are believed to belong to the elites of early Saka society. Over 50 ancient burial sites are in the Yeleke Sazy area, though virtually all were looted in ancient times.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Coinage of King Pyrrhus

EPIRUS. Pyrrhus (297–272 BC). Silver tetradrachm (16.56 gm). $60K in 2012.
After the particularly bloody Battle of Asculum in 279 BCE, Pyrrhus famously remarked: “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” This would live forever in the phrase “Pyrrhic victory”.

The silver tetradrachms were a high-value coin and were struck with dies engraved by the most skilled artisans.

Pyrrhos, King of Epiros, (297-272 BC.), AV Stater, 8.55g, Struck in Syracuse, 278 BC. $180k.
To pay mercenaries needed to fight the Carthaginians, Pyrrhus produced a massive issue of gold staters and half staters at Syracuse. The finest engravers were hired to produce stunning designs.
See ----->Pyrrhic Victory

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Mummy count continues to grow at Saqqara

The number of mummy-filled coffins found in a series of burial shafts at Saqqara in Egypt keeps growing. At the start of September, the team had found 13 coffins. By the beginning of October, that number had risen to 59, and now the number is over 100. Some are in a spectactular state of preservation. Archaeologists also found 20 wooden boxes showing depictions of Horus — an Egyptian sky god with a falcon head. Numerous shabti figurines were also found. Ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis acted as servants for the deceased in the afterlife.

The various finds date back between roughly 712 B.C. and 30 B.C.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

ICE returns 'Contorniato di Traiano' to Italy

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), returned two 9th century Italian manuscripts and a Roman coin, a Contorniato, during a repatriation ceremony at the Italian Embassy in Washington. A “Contorniato di Traiano,” was a reward given to soldiers or civilians during the rule of Trajan. (98-117 A.D.) A contorniate, or contourniate, is a type of ancient Roman medal or medallion made of bronze. The coin was stolen from the Oliveriano Museum in Pesaro in 1978. In April 2016, an auction house contacted the museum to report that a suspicious coin had recently been consigned by the executor of an estate. The auction house surrendered the coin to HSI Philadelphia in 2018.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Hermes dug up in Athens

The head of an ancient statue of the Greek god Hermes has been unearthed during excavations for sewage system improvements in central Athens. The artwork dates to the late 4th century BC or early 3rd century BC. The marble head was found 1.3 metres (four feet) under the pavement on the busy Aiolou street. Herms or Hermas are sculptures, usually of the head of Hermes, and sometimes a torso, which were set on a squared column erected at road crossings as signs.

According to Greek mythology, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the messenger of the gods, who also protected travellers and merchants.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Shimao - China's Pompeii

Villagers in the hills of China’s Loess Plateau believed that the crumbling rock walls near their homes were part of the Great Wall. Locals, and then looters, began finding pieces of jade in the rubble. Jade is not indigenous to this part of Shaanxi Province, the nearest source is almost a thousand miles away.

The rubble was not part of the Great Wall but the ruins of a magnificent fortress city. Carbon-dating determined that parts of Shimao date back 4,300 years, nearly 2,000 years before the oldest section of the Great Wall was built. The ongoing dig has revealed more than six miles of walls surrounding a 230-foot-high pyramid.
80 human skulls with no bodies were found, suggesting human sacrifice.Shimao flourished for nearly half a millennium, from around 2300 B.C. to 1800 B.C. It is the largest known Neolithic settlement in China with its 1,000-acre expanse. Fortified walls eight feet thick and six miles long ringed the city. Suddenly and for unknown reasons, it was abandoned.

Only a small fraction of Shimao has been excavated so far.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Top ancients continue to do well

The latest Stacks Bowers sale returned high prices. A rare Caracalla aureus, A.D. 198-217. (7.43 gms), Rome Mint, A.D. 213. ANACS AU-50. Sold for $14,400, blowing past a $5,000-$7,500 estimate.

A Lucius Verus aureus, A.D. 161-169. Rome Mint, A.D. 164. ANACS AU-55. It made $12,000 against an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Greek island of Kythnos reveals secrets

Vryokastraki is a small rocky islet near the Greek island of Kythnos. It was once home to a significant city in the early Byzantine period. Artifacts have emerged from the island, which was continuously inhabited from the 12th century BC until the 7th century AD. One of the inscriptions describes a pirate named Glafketis who took control of Kythnos in the 4th century BC. According to the recently discovered artifact, Glafketis had support from the Macedonians, but was eventually forced out of power by the Athenians.
Another inscription describes ancient bureaucratic processes on the island, including building regulations and a list of fines to be collected from those breaking them. The stones bearing these inscriptions had all been used for building purposes during the Byzantine period, a common practice.